Oh, the snow! And the ice. And the cold. What’s a gardener to do? Peruse the seed catalogs, of course! January may not be everyone’s favorite month in Minnesota, but for a gardener it’s actually a great time of year.

When the weather is less than cooperative, exercise hygge (get cozy!) and just curl up next to a fire, gaze out the window at where your gardens are (under all that snow), and page through seed catalogs.

Here are five reasons we love seed catalogs in January.

  1. We’re ready to plan. We’ve finally recovered from last season. It takes time, doesn’t it? We may love gardening and (almost) all that comes with it, but we still need a rest. This time of year is quite calm for gardeners, and so we plan.
  1. Perusing seed catalogs: TomatoesWe’re hungry for great-tasting produce! You’re never supposed to go to the grocery store hungry, but the same rule does not apply when scouring seed catalogs for your next edible garden. Now is the time to dream of and shop for perfectly ripe heirloom tomatoes, extra crispy and refreshing cucumbers, and peppers that’ll knock your socks off.
  1. Different varieties are highlighted. Whether it’s a new hybrid or an old heirloom you’ve never seen, the seed catalogs always highlight something new and interesting to try.
  1. The pictures can’t be beat. Seeds and seedlings and edibles are incredibly photogenic.
  1. We must restock and add to our supplies, so it’s time to think about what we’ll need to get a good start on this season: soil, trays, lights, . . . .

We like to look for garden ideas in other areas, too. Here four of our favorite resources for garden inspiration (in no particular order).

  1. Winter gardening: Perusing seed catalogsPinterest and Instagram, in particular, along with a good ol’ Google image source.
  2. Minnesota Gardener Magazine. Useful information, great writing, beautiful pictures – this one has it all and for our zone.
  3. Northern Gardener. This is a publication from the Minnesota State Horticultural Society. A subscription not only gives you information you can use from sources who know and grow, but it helps support MSHS.
  4. Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Becoming a member puts the arb at your fingertips with their newsletter, and anyone can visit and be inspired by the gardens.

Back to catalogs. Because lists are awesome, here are three catalogs we love.

  1. Seed Savers Exchange. Absolutely one of our favorites. This is not only a catalog, but a mission to preserve valuable seed varieties. Variety is important in seeds, since it not only preserves rare and interesting flavors in foods but also protects against losing entire plant varieties.
  1. Johnny’s Selected Seeds. This one has an excellent variety of seeds, including those that can be hard to find elsewhere, and seeds that you may want in larger quantities (for community gardens, large plantings, etc.). They have a nice array of tools and supplies for seed starting and gardening, too.
  1. Baker’s Creek Heirloom Seeds. Another great source for rare heirlooms, they print a color catalog that is the largest in the world. It can be purchased on their website or in stores. If you’re into seeds, it’s worth buying. They also have a smaller, free version and a great website.

Winter gardening: Perusing seed catalogs

Two more favorite garden activities in winter include:

  1. Styling with houseplants. Now they’re trending, but for us houseplants have been a constant. We grow them at home as well as work, and the quiet winter months is the perfect time to tend, rearrange, and style them. Occasionally (OK, maybe often) we bring home new plant friends to hang out with those we already have.
  1. Planning the winter landscape. We can see our winter landscape for what it really is and easily plan our winter garden for the next season. Though it’s a full year away, planting the winter landscape is just a few months away. Gaze over your space and decide where you – and the birds – would like to see something next year. Consider shrubs that add interest with colorful stems and food for the birds with berries.

Finally, our No. 1 favorite thing to do in January? Dig in the dirt! We get to do this all year ‘round thanks to the fact we work in a greenhouse. You’re welcome to stop by and enjoy with us, and tell us your spring garden dreams when you do!